In an atmosphere of restructuring and change, the new administrative leadership of the National Student Welfare Institute (Inabie), headed by Víctor Castro, shared details of its main assistance programs, among which stand out the school breakfast, lunch supplement and comprehensive health modules.
Castro spoke at the Listín Diario Breakfast, which was attended by Editora Listín Diario CEO Manuel Corripio and the newspaper’s director, Miguel Franjul.
“The scope of Inabie’s services is little known to people because they have understood that it is a large mall,” Castro said after noting that the entity is not just about distributing food to students , but also focuses on offering other services for the benefit of this group.
As detailed by Castro, last year more than 27,000 students were impacted by the various health modules at school sites where they offer hearing, eye and oral screening for minors. He said 285 children with hearing problems received hearing aids and more than 2,300 bought glasses, all for free. Assessment days are also held to determine the level of malnutrition or obesity of each student to help them correct this health condition and contribute to their well-being.
School menu by region
Inabie has the important task of regulating and distributing the food intake of students from the age of 5 to pre-college, a responsibility they take on with enthusiasm as food has been shown to have a major impact on the cognitive performance of students .
“We have 25 ready-made menus that change based on nutritional value. Most of the food is made on site. This represents a great incentive for national production, since this menu is adapted to the needs of families in each region of the country, which he called the “regionalized menu”.
Approximately 5 million food rations are delivered daily between school breakfast and lunch. About 4,200 public education centers receive processed food, while the rest receive raw food for later cooking because they are in inhospitable locations and it is not feasible or healthy to transport prepared food.
One of the most criticized aspects of previous Inabie administrations is supplier issues, bid problems and payment delays, such as a debt of more than RD$6,000 million which, according to its director, “was accumulated due to the fact that the programs were started with no contract and no upfront payment”.
The official assured that these payments were made in stages and would be settled between this month and May. At this time, Inabie has 1,874 suppliers of the school menu. Adding to this number suppliers of milk and baked goods, including school uniforms and backpacks, brings the total number of suppliers to 3,000.
Castro stressed that many suppliers have had to increase food rations due to rising enrollments. Inabie has a population of approximately two million students, excluding teachers and school administrators who are also beneficiaries.
Castro said his biggest challenge is a new Inabie that works to benefit school children and uses its budget as efficiently and profitably as possible.
Although Inabie is an agency of the Ministry of Education, it has its own budget and autonomy to carry out projects.